Dave Richards for October 30th….…………
--The words of former U.S. President John Kennedy ring in my ears from time to time. It just happened again.
In case you don’t remember Kennedy’s words, it was during a press conference where reporters were shooting questions at him rapidly. He’d just answered a question about a decision he’d made when the next question from a reporter was, “But Mr. President, is that fair?” Without missing a beat, Kennedy replied, “Sir, life isn’t fair.”, indicating there was no decision to be made in which all parties would be treated fairly but he had made a decision which he thought would be best for the country, even though it would hurt some people.
I remember being stricken by the honesty of that comment. We’re all used to politicians putting a spin on answers and trying to ‘please everyone’. My dad taught me that “you cannot please everyone all the time, that’s a fairy tale for children.” He added, “So grow up, son, and be unhappy.” Harsh but honest words, I thought.
It was circumstances such as these which helped me to adopt an attitude of, “I can deal with anything if I know the truth about it.” Notice I didn’t say “I can accept anything.” Accepting and dealing with something are two very different things.
I bring all this up as a study in honesty. I was raised to appreciate honesty and to distrust those who do not practice it consistently. Case in point. I accompanied The Fabulous Denise on a shopping trip recently. We noted the price of a gallon of milk had risen at a store we frequent, so we declined to buy it. Moving on to the next store (we used to visit only one store, but that just isn’t practical these days. ) we noted the price of a gallon of milk was actually higher than at the previous store. I asked Denise if she wanted to go back to the first store and she, of course, said it wasn’t worth it. “Milk must have gone up in price everywhere, she concluded.”
Up to this point in the story I can imagine you’re asking yourself, “what’s the point?” Indeed. You’ll need this one last development to have the story make sense regarding honesty. When we got to the checkout counter at that second supermarket, the price charged on that same gallon of milk was mysteriously the same as we’d been charged the week before. Why? Well, The Fabulous Denise is nothing if not thrifty. She has one of those store cards they scan before processing your groceries at checkout. It brought the price of the milk down to the price it was before the increase.
Which brings me to the obvious question. If this store can afford to sell us that gallon of milk for the same price, why did they mark it with a higher price in the first place? I mean, costs go up, we understand that. But if they went up, how can they afford to sell it for the same price? And what about those shoppers who don’t use the store card? They will be charged more than necessary for the item. Isn’t that predatory and dishonest? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I do suppose it is ‘legal’. Even though I benefitted this time, I am still very uncomfortable with the practice because it invades the privacy, even if voluntarily, and charges you a price for keeping your privacy.
--I’ve been told the reason stores use those little scan cards is so they can track your purchases to you. They either sell this information to other companies for money or use it to target ads to you, or both. I find that whole thing rather creepy.
And speaking of creepy, I was at a Halloween party this past Saturday and met a man who works in computer software named Jim. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and talked about our occupations. I asked Jim what project he was working on just now and he told me he was developing software destined to go into one of the popular single-serving coffee makers. He told me they wanted to know if customers were using the coffee maker’s cups or generic cups and what coffees they were drinking for marketing purposes. I just shook my head.
I knew, of course, that your television is sending info on what you watch, when, when you skip past commercials, and when you back the unit up to see something a second or third time. I always thought that was creepy, too. I’m told that the newest TVs now have cameras in them so you can take video calls while watching your favorite show using the Internet connection on your TV. It would not surprise me if that camera were to be used by your provider for some other business purpose.
Think I’m crazy? Okay, if I’d have told you 10 years ago that your cell phone is watching you through its camera, and that you’d own a smart phone which would stop playing you a video when it ‘saw’ you look away from the screen, what would you have said? That feature has been around for years.
--Honesty and trustworthiness are in short supply these days, folks. Treasure it when you find it.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.